Czech floods seen costing insurers $381 mln -industry group
PRAGUE, June 6
PRAGUE, June 6 (Reuters) - Insured damage from the worst floods in the Czech Republic in more than a decade could cost 7.5 billion crowns ($381.35 million), the country's insurers said on Thursday.
The Czech Insurance Association (CAP) said its members, who cover 98 percent of the market, had already registered 10,000 claims, but that number could rise to 96,000, according to early estimates.
Around 19,000 people have been evacuated in the Czech Republic and tens of thousands more in neighbouring central European countries in the region's worst flooding since 2002. A dozen people have been reported killed in the region.
Water levels were falling on all Czech rivers on Thursday, the fifth day of flooding, but the surge of water along the Elbe river was still making its way north into Germany.
To the south, parts of Austria were flooded while the Danube was expected to crest in Slovakia on Thursday.
The Czech government has freed up 5.3 billion crowns for flood repairs. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Czech Television on Thursday that he was also preparing plans to give some affected businesses tax breaks.
Spolana, a chemical factory in Neratovice, north of Prague, was inundated, and another chemical plant north of Prague, Lovochemie, was also affected.
The Agrarian Chamber said that 80,000 hectares out of 4.3 million hectares of farmland -- mostly grain fields but also some sugar beet and hop-growing areas -- were under water.
The country's dominant electricity producer CEZ was forced to shut down two power plant units on Tuesday as a preventative measure, cutting off supplies to thousands of homes.
The flooding this year was not as serious as record floods that hit Prague's historic centre in 2002. In that year, damage around central Europe was estimated at 20 billion euros ($26.17 billion). The 2002 floods cost Czech insurers 35 billion crowns.
CAP's members include the biggest insurers like Ceska Pojistovna, which is a partial unit of Italy's Assicurazioni Generali ; Allianz ; and Kooperativa, part of the Vienna Insurance Group. ($1 = 19.6668 Czech crowns) ($1 = 0.7642 euros) (Reporting by Jason Hovet, additional reporting by Robert Mueller, editing by Jan Lopatka and Mike Collett-White)
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